Naira Mushtaq

Naira Mushtaq paints old photographs to explore the transience and persistence of memory.
Naira’s work delves into our ability to form emotional bonds with imagery, recognising parts of ourselves and our pasts within the artwork.
Naira is actively involved in providing support for women of colour in the art world.

Naira Mushtaq is a multi-disciplinary artist from Lahore, Pakistan, now based in London. Naira explores the deconstruction and re-framing of the vernacular by creating paintings of found photographs and film archives focusing on historical and socio-cultural commentary. Her work stems from a desire to understand the pliable, deceptive and ever-evolving nature of memory.

Naira Mushtaq’s Early Career and Practice

A recipient of the International Vice-Chancellor Scholarship, Naira received her masters from Central Saint Martins with distinction. Naira has no familial ties to her subjects which means she can detach herself from the scenes in her figurative portraits. Using a gel medium to transfer the found photograph, she creates a sort of palimpsest “of truths and half-truths”. Likewise, the artist gives all her subjects generic, almost indistinguishable features when she paints. Despite the anonymity of her subjects, her portraits effuse longing and nostalgia. They offer us the illusion of personal memory. In this way, Naira cleverly explores how our interaction with art can become symbolic and meaningful in a way that the artist may never have intended.

Press and Projects

Naira is part of an artist-run collective called WAH (We Are Here), based between London and Lahore. The collective focuses on providing support, platforms and events for women of colour, asserting their existence and combating their erasure from the art world. Naira has received several residency awards, including the Muse Residency Award 2021-2022, Bridgeman Artist Award, 2019, INKSTER PRINT Residency Award, 2019, in London, and SANAT Artist Residency Award, 2014, in Pakistan. Naira also co-published the paper, The Sky Drew Some New Lines, read at the Urban Heritage Activism Conference at TU Berlin. Her recent projects include Darbari Duniya and Aluminum Theater for Art Night London 2019 and Bringing the Spice at Raven Row, London.

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